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Your Rights Following Disruption to Flights from UK Airports

Posted 29/08/23

Following the flight disruption in UK airports earlier this week, CTSI and UKICC have issued advice to travellers about their rights.

I’m stranded in the airport

The law requires airlines to offer assistance to passengers who find themselves stranded in an airport due to flight disruption. You should be offered reasonable non-alcoholic refreshments, accommodation (if a replacement flight requires an overnight stay) and transport between the airport and your accommodation.

The point at which you are entitled to this assistance depends on the length of the delay and distance of your flight. For flights of less than 1,500km, the rights accrue after a delay of two hours or more, three hours or more for flights between 1,500 and 3,500km, and a delay of four hours for all other flights.

If the new expected departure time is at least the day after the initially scheduled departure time, you are entitled to accommodation and transport to and from the airport and your accommodation.

Flight cancellations and delays

If your flight was cancelled, and the airline is based within the European Union or was departing from the UK, there is a legal right to a choice between being put on another flight to your destination or getting a refund of the value of your unused flight ticket. You can only choose one of these options.

In a situation where the cause of the cancellation or delay is a more general issue, impacting all airlines, you may have to wait for an alternative route, which might impact on other bookings you have such as hotels.  


Additional compensation to the above rights is only available where the reason for cancellation was within the control of the airline - this is unlikely with a general air traffic problem.

Impact on other services such as hotel bookings

If you booked your flight as part of a package covering other travel services like accommodation, you might have rights through your package travel organiser, so contacting them for a solution can also be helpful.

If you have booked holiday or travel services separately through different providers, you may not have a right to cancel such items as hotel bookings if you can’t get to the hotel on the specified day. You may also not have a right to change the dates of the booking. Of course, you should contact the service provider as early as possible and let them know of the problems you are facing, to see if they might be willing to adjust your arrangements.

You may however need to make new arrangements yourself, at your own cost.

If you have holiday insurance you should let your insurer know as soon as possible as this may be the only avenue available for compensation.

We advise that you make contact with the airline or your package travel organiser to outline your complaint and tell them what you would like them to do to put the problem right. Formal complaints communicated in writing can have more impact than a telephone call and can often result in a positive solution to a complaint. We recommend that you allow them a reasonable amount of time in which to respond (around three weeks) and if your case is still unresolved after having made contact with them, you can get in touch with UKICC who might be able to offer further help.

We also advise you to contact the bank/credit card company you used to pay for your holiday as they may also be able to help you claim if your claim is about a refund of the unused ticket.

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